Yankees off-season behavior will change with the year

A year ago Saturday, the Yankees opened the free agent signing period by offering CC Sabathia six years and $140 million. It was an aggressive offer from a team that promised to be active in the free agent market. The Yankees had many holes, and as luck had it the free agent class featured a number of players who could fill them. Sabathia was the center piece, but it was known that the Yankees wouldn’t end with just one acquisition. Brian Cashman himself said he was bringing home two pitchers.

It was the perfect time for the Yankees. The free agent class was strong, with a few elite and otherwise high quality players. Because a few contracts had just expired, the team had money to spend. Other teams helped too, but restricting spending at a time when the Yankees freed up resources. It all came together, and the Yankees struck. That doesn’t happen all the time, and given the Yankees current situation and the strength of the market, it doesn’t appear that the Yankees will make a similar play this year.

Cashman recently commented on the free agent situation, saying that, “You won’t see offers right out of the gate.” It signals that the Yankees will be a bit more patient with this class, knowing that adding any of the top players means yet another long-term, high-salary commitment. Over the last two off-seasons the team has added four contracts of five years or longer. I’m not sure the team is ready to add another.

This means that the Yankees probably won’t sign Matt Holliday. On his newly minted Twitter account, ESPN’s Buster Olney says that the Yankees “are not interested in signing Holliday.” In a different year, maybe the Yankees make a play for Holliday. But the Yankees already have $92.912 million committed to their 2013 roster. That does not include Derek Jeter, whose contract is up after next season and who will presumably sign a new, lucrative deal that will cover 2013. Adding Holliday (and Jeter) would put the 2013 figure close to $130 million.

Last year the Yankees took advantage of a robust free agent market. They had the money, and the players were right. Neither is true this year. The Yankees have some money coming off the books, but they also have holes to fill. While it’s nice to think of Holliday roaming left field in 2010, it means he’d also play there in 2013 and beyond. That doesn’t appear to interest the Yankees this off-season.

More Heyman, more Holliday

The Yankees are still chasing their 27th World Championship, but that won’t stop the hot stove from warming up. After hearing that Matt Holliday‘s top choice is the Yanks over the weekend, today we fhear rom a Yankee official – via Jon Heyman – that “I’m not absolutely positive we’re going to go for (Holliday).” Me? Well I’m not “absolutely positive” they should go for Holliday either. He’ll be too damn expensive, and there are just too many concerns about his ability to thrive in the American League. It’s a costly gamble, but the Yanks surely could afford to take it.

Holliday’s top choice the Bronx, says Davidoff

As we recover from the collective hangover brought on by the Yanks’ epic Game 2 victory, the rumor mill is a-tilt today. The rumor-du-jour involves Matt Holliday, one of the top free agents this winter. According to Ken Davidoff, Holliday’s top choice is New York.

Although the Sunder Insider piece isn’t online as part of Newsday’s awful new website, Davidoff summarized the rumor:

According to a person in the loop, Matt Holliday’s top choices in free agency are: 1) Yankees; and 2) Mets. The Oklahoma native is apparently not intimidated by New York.

As of now, I’d say the Yankees don’t want to make another large purchase like that, in the wake of last winter’s shopping spree – and if they win it all, then the pressure from the yakosphere (trademark Neil Best) to get Holliday should alleviate.

The Mets? Based on Jeff Wilpon’s words from a few weeks ago, they’ll consider anything and everything. Of course, many industry folks are very skeptical that the Mets will actually do so. Holliday’s primary reservation about joining the Mets? Yup, hitting at Citi Field. Maybe they can alter the dimensions? Jerry Manuel hinted near the end of the season that wasn’t impossible.

Mike Silva, writing about this rumor, reminds us of a recent Jon Heyman report in which the Sports Illustrated scribe’s sources say Holliday’s agent will ask for seven years and $150 million. That, of course, is just an initial request. Holliday would probably be content with five years and $100 million.

Meanwhile, in the Bronx, Bill Madden checks in with the Yanks’ off-season preparations. Even though the team on the field is focused on their ultimate goal, the Front Office is busy assessing free agency. Madden believes the Yanks will resign either Hideki Matsui or Johnny Damon on a short deal and attempt to fill in from free agency. Interestingly, Madden drops Justin Duchscherer’s name and picks Desmond DeChone Figgins as a left field replacement. Never mind the reality that Figgins has 36 games of left field experience under his belt.

If the Yanks’ choice comes down to one between Holliday and Figgins, I pick Matt Holliday. He’s two years younger than Figgins and probably won’t suffer through as big a decline as Figgins would. The Yanks have around $50 million coming off the books this year and no major pitching holes to fill. They can spend the money on offense, and Holliday wouldn’t be a poor choice if the price is right. But will the price really be right?

Yanks to face Holliday-less A’s this weekend

The rumors had been circulating for a few hours, and now it finally seems official: Matt Holliday is going to the Cardinals for third baseman Brett Wallace, outfielder Shane Peterson and right-handed pitcher Clayton Mortensen. The Cardinals will also receive $1.5 million from the A’s. So how does this relate to the Yankees? Simple: The Bombers won’t have to face a recently hot Matt Holliday — .330/.402/.536 over his last 26 games — in the remaining contests they have against the A’s this weekend, and that sounds good to me.

Holliday willing to play in NY

Via MLBTR, it turns out that Matt Holliday is willing to play in New York, which is Boras’ way of getting the Yankees and Mets involved for leverage purposes. Back in November we heard from Holliday’s father Tom, who wants his son to play for the Yankees. Me? I’d pass. I don’t want to see the team sign another player to a huge contract and be locked in at first, third and left field for the better part of the next decade. I prefer Carl Crawford, who’s nearly two years younger and a much more well-rounded player. Not to mention the fact that he’d probably come cheaper in both dollars and years.

Fun Fact: Matt Holliday has hit one homerun since August 20th of last year, including Spring Training.

Gammons sees Yanks in on Holliday

Matt Holliday stands to be one of the most sought-after free agents come October. Today, Peter Gammons checked in on the A’s outfielder. Holliday is concerned with his upcoming 2009 campaign, but Gammons speculates on the future. Early indications are that the Angels, Red Sox and Yankees will be competing for Holliday’s services if he proves he can hit outside of Colorado this year. Of the Yanks, Gammons writes, “There are scouts who believe Holliday’s natural center/right-center power is best suited for Yankee Stadium.”

Holliday’s dad wants to see son in Pinstripes

I’ll start by noting that this means little, if anything, to the Yankees Hot Stove pursuits. It’s just an interesting article by RAB-fave Tyler Kepner about Matt Holliday‘s father Tom, pitching coach at North Carolina State University. When he heard his son would likely be traded this off-season, he hoped it would be to an eastern team. Specifically, the New York Yankees.

“If someone would have called me today and said Matt had gotten traded to the Yankees, I’d have been hunting for a place to celebrate.”

Since it’s unlikely the A’s will sign Holliday once he reaches free agency after the 2009 season, there’s a chance Tom could realize his dream. It’s not that great a chance, though. Matt will be 30 for the 2010 season and employs Scott Boras as an agent. This does not bode well for his prospects. Boras will fill a binder full of stretched truths and try to eke out every last penny for his client.

The Yanks will be losing two outfielders/DHs next winter in Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. Will they spend a portion of that money, $26 million combined, on Holliday? It’s a possibility, certainly, especially with Xavier Nady hitting free agency for the first time. The Yanks could therefore be in the market for a corner outfielder. Will they pony up the dough and the years to land Holliday? I suppose we’ll find out in a year.

On an interesting note, Tom Holliday was pitching coach at the University of Texas in 2004 when they were the College World Series runners up. He coached Huston Street that year, who is said to be headed to Colorado in the deal.